Kylie," I call, "we need to start writing our article about Hawaii. Have you been thinking about it?" She answers, "How many words does it have to be?" (I'm proud. She's learning writer's lingo.) "About 850 words," I say. "That's easy," she says, "just type the word beautiful 850 times."
My 12-year-old daughter, Kylie, and I went on a trip of a life time and she is so right-it was beautiful. We knew it the moment we got off the plane. The first thing she said to me was, "It smells good here." Everywhere you look you see beauty. The mountains are beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, the ocean is beautiful, the fish, the sand, the sea turtles, the trees, the language, the hula dancers, the music, the horizon, the sunsets, and the people; are all beautiful.
Kylie and I were guests of the Sheraton Oahu for three days and, after a short flight on Island Air, we were guests of the Sheraton Maui for two. Sheraton hotels offer a "Stay at one, play at all" program, in which guests can take advantage of the amenities at all hotels. If the kids want to check out the pool at another hotel, they can. Also, Sheraton hotels offer a Keiki Aloha program of supervised activities for kids. In Oahu, Kylie made a volcano on the beach, she went bamboo pole fishing and she learned how to make a fresh flower lei. In Maui she learned to scuba dive, (her teacher told her she was a natural) and she even learned the hula (maybe not quite so natural).
We packed in a lot of fun and wished we had time to do and see more. We went to the Honolulu Zoo where we met Rusty, the orange colored orangutan who smiles. At Sea Life Park in Honolulu we attended Splash U and earned a Certificate in Dolphinology. We learned about the history of the Moana Surfsider hotel where we sat on the veranda, sipping tea, overlooking the ocean. We went out on a catamaran and spent an hour snorkeling over a protected coral reef. We got pedicures-a first for both of us-at the spa in the Westin Maui.
Our list of things to check out next time includes: Climbing to the top of Diamond Head, going to Pearl Harbor, riding in a glass bottom boat, surfing lessons and a ride on the Sugar Cain Train.
Everyone we met told us, "I have the best job in the world." Kylie and I decided that it really has nothing to do with the job, and everything to do with the place. Any job is the best job in the world when you live among the beauty of Hawaii.
What we learned Trade winds. The trade winds are a popular topic of casual conversation. Blowing=good. Not blowing=bad. The first two days of our stay, the trade winds were not blowing which allowed us bragging rights to say "humid? This is not humid, 10 days above 90, in August, in Chicago, is humid."
Wholphin. Her mother is a 300-pound dolphin and her father is a 1,700-pound false killer whale. She is a 600-pound, silly looking wholphin named Keikaimalu and she lives at Sea Life Park in Honolulu, where they no longer let the whales and dolphins live in the same tank.
Shoes. We call then flip flops, they call them slippers.
Icy treats. We call them snow cones, they call them shaved ice.
Banyan tree. Honolulu is home to the second largest banyan tree in the world. The largest is in India, where the tree originated. The third largest is in Fort Meyers, Fla. This banyan tree is the size of two city blocks, more than 100 years old and is the centerpiece of the courtyard of the oldest hotel on Oahu, the Moana Surfsider.
Fruit. The pineapple grows in the ground with only the green top sticking out. Kylie says, "Fruit grows above ground and has seeds, vegetables grow in the ground and don't have seeds...Hmm."
Language. Aloha means "I give you the breath from my soul."
Sandi Pedersen, the mother of four children, is the Web editor for Chicago Parent and the five newspapers published by Wednesday Journal, Inc., our parent company.
See more of Sandi's stories here.